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For Friends and Allies

About Sunrise Movement: A brief background for friends and allies

Sunrise is a movement of young people to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. We are building an army of young people to make the climate crisis an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who will stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people. We are young people under the age of 35, including high school students, college students, and other young adults. We have chapters (“hubs”) in over 300 cities and towns across the United States (https://sunrisemovement.org/hubs).

The Green New Deal (GND) is a 10-year mobilization to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and move to 100% renewable energy, create millions of good jobs, and ensure justice for everyone impacted by the extractive economy. The GND will be guided by the federal government but must involve the participation and leadership of individuals, organizations, businesses and governments at every level of society, particularly workers and people on the frontlines of pollution and climate impacts.

Every person, regardless of race, class, or citizenship status, has the fundamental right to a clean environment and meaningful work. These rights have been stolen from us by fossil fuel CEOs who have rigged the political system for their own profit, while pitting us against each other by saying that some communities must suffer asthma or flooding for others to have jobs. The GND is about uniting to build a just and equitable society where no one is left behind.

  • December 6, 2019: Youth Climate Strike. Young people everywhere are striking on Friday December 6 to build support for the GND and demand action from politicians.
  • April 22-25, 2020: Earth Day 50. On the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, people of all ages will strike and demonstrate by the millions in the largest day of climate action ever. Sunrise members will be striking from school and leading GND events.
  • November 3, 2020: Election Day. Young people are the largest potential voting bloc in the country - it’s time that we show up in force! We’ll register voters and support GND champions throughout the election season to elect a president and Congress that will back the GND.
  • Late 2020 - Early 2021: Youth Uprising: Even if we elect a favorable president and Congress, it will still require the pressure of millions to win something as big as a GND. Young people are rising up after election day to halt business as usual and demand action.

Sunrise “hubs” are the fundamental unit of organization in Sunrise. Hubs are community-based and volunteer-led, and serve as the on-the-ground organizing bodies for the movement. Any group of three people can form a Sunrise hub after going an onboarding process. Most of us are students and/or hold full-time jobs, which means we are sometimes slow to respond to requests from other groups. Hubs are independent and autonomous. We act creatively and of our own initiative in pursuit of Sunrise’s goals, while following Sunrise’s guiding principles (sunrisemovement.org/principles). We are legally distinct from any central body and make our own endorsements of political candidates and on local/regional issues.

Major national mobilizations, coordinated waves of action, national endorsements and other national functions are coordinated by a central infrastructure - the Movement Support Team (MST). This team offers regular invitations for hubs to act, and hubs participate based on our capacity and local discretion. The MST also provides support through training and developing resources like this one.

We see ourselves as one part of a bigger movement ecosystem. Like a natural ecosystem, the movement ecosystem works best when different groups play different roles, while maintaining mutually supportive relationships.

Here is how we understand Sunrise’s role in the movement ecosystem:

  • Activate young people who aren’t already part of a movement for justice, while building towards a massive youth strike that includes millions of people
  • Make climate justice a higher-priority political issue through moral protest
  • Push candidates to back the GND and reject fossil fuel money, and endorse and support GND champion candidates
  • Show up for other climate and social justice efforts as an act of solidarity

Here are a few things that are NOT our role. We believe these roles are best played by other groups:

  • We don’t convene coalitions or attempt to unite everyone working on related issues. When time permits, we do participate in coalitions convened by others
  • We don’t lead in developing local-,state-, or federal-level policy programs. We follow the lead of long-standing community organizations when it comes to local policy or infrastructure fights
  • Invite us to your events (and/or show up to ours!)
  • Request a presentation on Sunrise and the GND
  • Collaborate with us on an educational event or action
  • Team up with us during election season to elect progressive politicians